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Area Residents Support More Cooperation and Regional Planning on Issues | Community Spirit

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Area Residents Support More Cooperation and Regional Planning on Issues

This story comes to us from Olivia Petersen:

Despite general satisfaction with their overall quality-of-life, a majority of Metropolitan Washington residents want stronger regional accountability on long-range planning decisions by our area leaders, according to a comprehensive survey of residents from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia released today.  Further, according to the non-profit organization that commissioned the survey, the 2030 Group, residents are willing to consider new models of regional cooperation to tackle issues such as transportation and housing and their greater impact on the entire the Washington area. 

“The result of this survey reveals that the public welcomes a discussion for a credible and accountable regional authority to coordinate planning for the region’s growth,” said Bob Buchanan, President of the 2030 Group.  “Regional strategies are critical to maintaining the highest quality-of-life for all our residents.  We simply cannot sustain the current silo-approach where each of the 20-plus jurisdictions go-it-alone.  There should be a more cohesive governance structure which tackles these big challenges with a regional perspective.”

According to the survey results, an overwhelming majority – six to one – of Washington area respondents agree that it would be better to have a regional plan to maximize opportunities for a stronger regional economy compared to allowing economic growth to simply happen on its own.  The 81 percent to 14 percent support for a regional approach was unveiled despite a 90 percent positive rating for the overall strength of the current local economy.

Similarly, 80 percent of the respondents want local governmental jurisdictions in the region to work cooperatively to strengthen the regional economy, as compared to just 45 percent who feel that local jurisdictions are already cooperating to promote the region’s economic health.

Not surprisingly, transportation proved a key organizing factor for regionalism for the respondents.  Sixty-seven percent believe our congested road system cannot handle future growth pressures and say this is the top issue threatening the Washington region’s quality of life over the next 20 years.  Further, by a 66 percent to 28 percent margin, area residents support a stronger regional structure to plan for and manage traffic flow and road capacity needs on metro-wide. 

When questioned about a new and stronger regional structure, 80 percent want our region’s leadership to be held accountable, with a 53 percent majority preferring it be led by local elected officials from each of the area’s local governments rather than qualified non-elected citizens appointed by current government officials.

“We are encouraged by the public’s voice of support,” Buchanan said.  “Now we must roll up our sleeves and collectively work together to identify an appropriate and viable framework for executing the right decisions for our region.” 

As part of the 2030 Group’s efforts, the group partnered with the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise (CPPPE) at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy to conduct research on regional leadership models from across the country and presented their findings to a workshop of community leaders on September 20th.

The poll was conducted by Frederick Polls of Virginia through telephone surveys from August 6th to August 12th among a random regional sample of 1,000 registered voters in Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland. 

In Virginia, those counties and cities included Fairfax County, Arlington County, City of Alexandria, Prince William County, and Loudoun County.  In Maryland, counties included Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Frederick County, and Charles County.  Results from the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The 2030 Group is comprised of business leaders from across the region (Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland) with deep and longstanding ties to the community that in many cases goes back one to two generations.  Earlier this year, the 2030 Group invested in research on the growth trend projections for this area over the next 20 years, conducted by Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University.  Results of Dr. Fuller’s research, released in April 2010, revealed the following statistics:  In the next 20 years, the local Washington D.C. metropolitan area economy is expected to grow by 94%; generate 1.6 million net new jobs; and increase in population by 1.67 million people, creating 694 thousand new households. 

For more information on the 2030 Group and this survey, please visit: www.The2030Group.com.